TITLE: The Paper Was Rejected, But Do Readers Care? AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: November 20, 2012 12:20 PM DESC: ----- BODY: The research paper I discussed in a recent blog entry on student use of a new kind of textbook has not been published yet. It was rejected by ICER 2012, a CS education conference, for what are surely good reasons from the reviewers' perspective. The paper neither describes the results of an experiment nor puts the evaluation in the context of previous work. As the first study of this sort, though, that would be difficult to do. That said, I did not hesitate to read the paper and try to put its findings to use. The authors have a solid reputation for doing good work, and I trust them to have done reasonable work and to have written about it honestly. Were there substantial flaws with the study or the paper, I trusted myself to take them into account as I interpreted and used the results. I realize that this sort of thing happens every day, and has for a long time: academics reading technical reports and informal papers to learn from the work of their colleagues. But given the state of publishing these days, both academic and non-academic, I couldn't help but think about how the dissemination of information is changing. Guzdial's blog is a perfect example. He has developed a solid reputation as a researcher and as an interpreter of other people's work. Now, nearly every day, we can all read his thoughts about his work, the work of others, and the state of the world. Whether the work is published in a journal or conference or not, it will reach an eager audience. He probably still needs to publish in traditional venues occasionally in order to please his employer and to maintain a certain stature, but I suspect that he no longer depends upon that sort of publication in the way researchers ten or thirty years ago. True, Guzdial developed his reputation in part by publishing in journals and conferences, and they can still play that role for new researchers who are just developing their reputations. But there are other ways for the community to discover new work and recognize the quality of researchers and writers. Likewise, journals and conferences still can play a role in archiving work for posterity. But as the internet and web reach more and more people, and as we learn to do a better job of archiving what we publish there, that role will begin to fade. The gates really are coming down. -----